Several different materials can be used for walls and ceilings in homes, including paneling and plaster. However, most surfaces are either plywood or drywall, with the latter being the top choice because of its numerous advantages. Drywall – aka gypsum board, plasterboard, wallboard or sheetrock – consists of gypsum sandwiched between two layers of thick paper. Plywood comprises several sheets of thin wood bonded together.
Pros & Cons of Drywall vs Plywood
Drawbacks of plywood compared with drywall include:
- Higher cost.
- More difficult to install.
- Harder to repair.
Other advantages of drywall vs plywood include:
- Greater fire and water resistance.
- Better sound dampening properties.
- More versatility.
Drywall vs Plywood Costs
While less durable than plywood, drywall is more affordable to install and less costly to repair. Most wooden building materials are expensive, and plywood is no exception, although cheaper than regular wood. Plywood is far more expensive than drywall, especially cabinet grade hardwood plywood. Installing drywall is also less time consuming than using plywood, which keeps down labor costs – the main consideration in home renovations.
You may be able find cheaper plywood but remember you get what you pay for and cheaper materials tend to be inferior – and cheap plywood is still more costly than drywall.
Less robust than plywood, drywall can be prone to damage from accidental knocks – while moving furniture, for example. On the other hand, drywall is easier to repair than plywood. A hole in drywall can simply be patched and sanded, provided it’s not too big. Damage to plywood panels invariably involves repairing the whole section to get the right look. It’s also generally easier to find a drywall repair contractor than a plywood specialist, because drywall is more universally used.
Drywall gives you a highly versatile option that can be customized to match your design style preferences and your living space.
For instance, lightweight, thin drywall can create a subtle partition in a room, while more substantial drywalling can provide a clear distinction between spaces.
Drywall gives you the perfect, smooth surface when finished by professionals, and lends it itself to multiple applications, such as:
This is why drywall can be found throughout many homes, in:
- Living rooms.
- Dining areas.
Drywall is also ideal for use on curved surfaces such as archways.
Safety Considerations of Drywall vs Plywood
Where a fire-rated wall is desired – or required by building codes – plywood isn’t a suitable option, but drywall can provide an additional safety measure in the event of fire. Drywall doesn’t ignite as easily as plywood and won’t burn as quickly – keeping your family and your property much safer. Drywall is fire resistant because of the high level of crystalized water in its composition.
Acoustic Advantages of Drywall
As well as water crystals, drywall is made with dried gypsum mineral, which makes it very sound resistant. Drywall is also denser with more mass than plywood, which dampens sound more effectively. Plywood is obviously made of wood, which conducts sound, allowing noise to pass freely from one room to the next.
Getting a Flawless Finish
It’s far easier to get a smooth finish with drywall. Plywood is highly absorbent, and the initial coat of varnish or paint just acts as a sealant as it’s soaked up by the wood. The paper coating of drywall is more moisture resistant, so the first coat becomes part of the final finish as well as a sealant.
Finishing plywood entails sanding the whole surface while the only sanding needed with drywall is to smooth the drywall mud used to strengthen joints.
How Drywall has stood the test of time
Developed as an affordable alternative to plaster and lath surfaces, Drywall has been the standard finish for ceilings and walls in U.S. houses for more than 40 years, Many homeowners will continue to choose drywall for home remodeling on the grounds that its advantages – affordability, versatility, sound resistance, fire safety, and ease of repair – outweigh the fact that plywood is stronger.
The logic is simple: why opt for a more expensive material with a less than perfect finish?
Getting Drywall Installation right first time
If you decide drywall is the better option for your home remodeling, bear in mind there’s a hidden downside to drywall – its relative ease of installation, which results in many misguided DIY attempts.
While you may be able to do a minor drywall repair like patching a small hole, installing drywall from scratch is another matter entirely. Drywall is heavier than plywood and amateurs often struggle to handle it, especially if working alone.
It’s important to get drywall installation right first time – early mistakes can be time-consuming and expensive. That’s why most homeowners turn to drywall installation professionals with the skills, experience and resources to make the most of the advantages of drywall by creating perfect walls and ceilings.